Vannakam! That means ‘hello’ in Tamil, the main language spoken in the state Tamil Nadu in India. Last fall I had the opportunity through George Fox to study for a semester in India and it has forever changed my life. When I first came to campus as a freshman I knew that I wanted to study abroad. I met with my enrollment counselor to look over my classes to make sure I would still graduate on time and picked India because it would allow me to take a global business class and have a rich cultural experience.
For three and a half months I took classes at a local university. Some of my favorite classes were Indian cuisine, where we learned how to cook with various spices and make regional dishes, and my weekly business internship at an outsourced accounting firm in the city. One of my favorite dishes to make and eat is coconut chutney with dosa, a very thin crepe made out of rice. I ate with my right hand everyday (because utensils are not used in India!) and learned how to bargain with a rickshaw driver to drive me to my internship every week.
Many Indian students at my school were eager to teach me Tamil and take me to their homes to eat a meal and share a good cup of chai tea. The tea and biscuits in India are amazing! The study abroad program also took our group on traveling excursions during the weekends and the last two weeks of the semester we traveled all throughout the country! We went to Varanasi to see the famous winding alleyways and temples, Kolkata to visit a children’s home established by Mother Theresa, Agra for the Taj Mahal of course, and even river rafting down the Ganges River in Rishikesh!
Studying abroad not only has challenged me academically, but my entire worldview has been expanded in the way I understand culture, social justice, my future career goals, and where I fit into the grand story God is writing for the world. I absolutely loved my semester in India and believe that every student should take advantage of the opportunity to experience the journey of self and world discovery that can come from studying abroad!